Things not to put in milk

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, September 29, 2008

I was looking at a recipe the other day, which involved using melamine.

You know, that stuff that is turning up in Chinese milk powders and baby formulas.

This recipe involved milk, but the only use of the melamine was using boards made of melamine to press cheese.

So why on earth would you want to put a substance related to cyanamide into milk? Why would you want milk to be fire-retardent? Or full of pesticides containing melamine? Does baby formula need to be a durable plastic? Should milk powder now be sold in the same shelves as whiteboard, countertops, chopping boards, glues and other products?

I don't think so.

The reason it is added to milk products in China - and it seems, also in New Zealand and other places - is to boost the nitrogen content, giving it the appearance that it contains more protein (and therefore, the supplier gets more money).

Melamine is described as being "Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Chronic exposure may cause cancer or reproductive damage. Eye, skin and respiratory irritant."

"Ingestion of melamine may lead to reproductive damage, or bladder or kidney stones, which can lead to bladder cancer."

Here's something sobering from Wikipedia:
Recent production of melamine in mainland China

Between the late 1990s and early 2000s, both consumption and production of melamine grew considerably in mainland China. In the United States Geological Survey 2004 Minerals Survey Yearbook, in a report on worldwide nitrogen production, the author stated that "(mainland) China continued to plan and construct new ammonia and urea plants using coal gasification technology."[49]

By early 2006, melamine production in mainland China is reported to be in "serious surplus".[50] In April 2007, DSM's melamine industry update painted a grave global picture.[51] Between 2002 and 2007, while the global melamine price remained stable, a steep increase in the price of urea (feedstock for melamine) has reduced the profitability of melamine manufacturing. Currently, China is the world's largest exporter of melamine, while its domestic consumption still grows by 10% per year. However, reduced profit has already caused other joint melamine ventures to be postponed there.

2007 Animal feed recalls

Further information: 2007 pet food recalls and Chinese protein export contamination

In 2007 a pet food recall was initiated by Menu Foods and other pet food manufacturers who had found their products had been contaminated and caused serious illnesses or deaths in some of the animals that had eaten them.[29][30][31] In March 2007, the US Food and Drug Administration reported finding white granular melamine in the pet food, in samples of white granular wheat gluten imported from a single source in China, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology[32] as well as in crystalline form in the kidneys and in urine of affected animals.[33] Further vegetable protein imported from China was later implicated.

In April 2007, The New York Times reported that the addition of "melamine scrap" into fish and livestock feed to give the false appearance of a higher level of protein was an "open secret" in many parts of mainland China, reporting that this melamine scrap was being produced by at least one plant processing coal into melamine.[34] Four days later, the New York Times reported that, despite the widely reported ban on melamine use in vegetable proteins in mainland China, at least some chemical manufacturers continued to report selling it for use in animal feed and in products for human consumption. Li Xiuping, a manager at Henan Xinxiang Huaxing Chemical in Henan Province, stated, "Our chemical products are mostly used for additives, not for animal feed. Melamine is mainly used in the chemical industry, but it can also be used in making cakes."[35] Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical Group, the company reported by the New York Times as producing melamine from coal, produces and sells both urea and melamine but does not list melamine resin as a product.[36]

Another recall incident in 2007 involved melamine which had been purposely added as a binder to fish and livestock feed manufactured in the United States. This was traced to suppliers in Ohio and Colorado.[37]

[edit] 2008 Chinese milk scandal

Further information: 2008 Chinese Milk Scandal

In September 2008, several companies were implicated in a scandal involving milk and infant formula which had been adulterated with melamine. By 22 September, nearly 53,000 illnesses, over 12,800 hospitalisations, and four infant deaths had been reported, caused by kidney stones and other renal failure.[38][39] The chemical appeared to have been added to milk in order to cause it to appear to have a higher protein content.The Philippines banned all dairy product that came from mainland China.

Melamine has been found in products produced by 21 other companies, including Sanlu, Mengniu, Yili, and Yashili[40]

Melamine may have been added to fool government quality tests after water was added to fraudulently increase the milk's volume, since melamine will cause a false increase in the measurement of protein by increasing the nitrogen levels in the milk.[41][42] Officials estimate that about 20 percent of the dairy companies tested in China sell products tainted with melamine.[43]

# ^ David Barboza and Alexei Barrionuevo (30 April 2007). "Filler in Animal Feed Is Open Secret in China", The New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-04-30.
# ^ David Barboza and Alexei Barrionuevo (3 May 2007). "China Makes Arrest in Pet Food Case", The New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-05-03.
# ^ "Products". Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical Group. Retrieved on 2007-04-30.
# ^ Andrew Martin (31 May 2007). "Poison used in China is found in U.S.-made animal feed", The New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-06-01.
# ^ Scott McDonald, "Nearly 53,000 Chinese children sick from milk", Associated Press (22 September 2008)
# ^ Jane Macartney, China baby milk scandal spreads as sick toll rises to 13,000, The Times (September 22, 2008)
# ^ The Wall Street Journal, "Chinese Shun Local Milk", 19-Sep-2008[3]
# ^ "Fonterra says somebody sabotaged milk" (in English). NZ Herald (September 15, 2008). Retrieved on 2008-09-22.
# ^ "Toxic milk toll rockets in China" (in English). BBC NEWS (September 15, 2008). Retrieved on 2008-09-22.
# ^ Tran, Tini (September 17, 2008). "6,200 Chinese babies ill, 3 die from tainted milk" (in English). Yahoo! News. Retrieved on 2008-09-22.
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